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Our Inner Zacchaeus

At yesterday's Angelus in Saint Peter's Square, Pope Francis gave a particularly lovely reflection on the Gospel reading. (I have corrected the translation in a number of places.)

Let's look at Zacchaeus in the tree. His is a ridiculous gesture, but it is an act of salvation. And I say to you: if you have a weight on your conscience, if you are ashamed of so many things that you’ve done, stop for a moment, do not panic. Think about the fact that Someone is waiting for you because He has never stopped remembering you — and this Someone is your Father, it is God Who waits for you! Climb up, as did Zacchaeus, climb onto the tree of the desire of being forgiven. I will assure you that you will not be disappointed. Jesus is merciful and never grows tired of forgiving! Remember well, that’s the way Jesus is.

Brothers and sisters, let us allow Jesus to call us by name. In the depths of our heart, let us listen to His voice that says to us: "Today I must stay at your house," that is, in your heart, in your life. And let us welcome Him with joy. He can change us, can transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. He can liberate us from selfishness and make our lives a gift of love. Jesus can do it. Allow yourself to be gazed upon by Jesus!

The Italian text is here.

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This was indeed a moving comment on Zacchaeus' slightly comical but ultimately salvific moment.  I definitely relate to Zacchaeus, given my own spiritual struggles, and our pastor at St. Rose of Lima parish here in Simi Valley gave a wonderful sermon about him.

I think that Papa Francesco has been a welcome relief from the his moral relativism predecessor who never missed a chance to delay justice and reconciliation to the survivors of  priestly sexual abuse and exploitation.

I admint that this little ferorino from the pope at Sunday Angelius is really fetching.  But, itsn't it time we stop collectively fawning over this pope and start demanding real actions more than words?  

Isn't it time Papa Francesco DOES something substantial and signficant to address the greatest scandal to befall the church since the crusades and Inquisition?

When is Papa Francesco going to hear the cry of the real poor - the survivors who were raped and sodomized by priests?

How long, O Lord, how long?

He sure has a way with words. He can make a text come alive in new ways. He's like the whole world's parish priest.

Jim, I think his plan might be to not use his authority but instead inspire people to change so that they right injustice.

It was only recently that I appreciated the import of this story: "And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house...For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.'"  It was Jesus who initiated the visit to Zacchaeus' house.  This insight coincides with Luke 15.  God does the seeking, and God will prevail with unconditional love and enduring mercy.

In our Sunday homily the priest said that Zacchaeus went out on a limb for Jesus.  

Couldn't agree more Claire - aren't all of us looking at ourselves - whenever I pass someone begging on the street i think of Francis saying that it is not enough to give money - we must engage with that person. Even the Bishops (or some of them!) are looking at their lifestyles.  So a transformation is already occurring and Francis is smart enough to know that it will be more effective to bring us back to Jesus and His message, rather than be authoriatarian.

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About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is an associate professor of theology at Boston College.